Basketball Scholarships – Chasing The Full Ride
(Part 1 of 7) – 7 part series A Definitive Guide To Your College Basketball Dream
Part 1: The Full Ride Basketball Scholarship
For student-athletes in high school basketball preparing to find a college of their choice the search for the “full-ride” athletic scholarship is a common dream. However, is there such a thing? First of all, there are minimal 1-year and no 4-year full-rides. NCAA D1 men’s basketball has about 4,400 total scholarships, 13 per program. These scholarships are almost always one-year deals and the more money that is given, the more pressure there is for the student-athlete to produce. Full-ride, means full-time job.
A very small percentage of student-athletes earn full-ride athletic scholarships. In fact, according to the National Collegiate Scouting Association (NCSA) website, of the seven million high school athletes graduating each year, 1% will receive full rides in ALL sports combined. These full rides are in NCAA D1 in the sports of football, men’s & women’s basketball and women’s volleyball and are labeled “head-count” sports and require coaches to hand out full rides. All other NCAA D1 sponsored sports and all sports in other collegiate athletic affiliations within the US (NCAA II, NAIA, NJCAA, USCAA, NCCAA) that offer some sort of athletic scholarships will see coaches split athletic money to maximize rosters and get the best “bang for their buck.”
In 2013 scholarshipstats.com reported that 5.9% (31,863 out of a possible 535,569) of high school basketball boys and 6.3% (28,002 out of 436,100) of high school girls went on to play varsity college basketball. The average athletic aid among this small percentage of players was $5,266 for males, and $6,382 for females. To put these numbers into perspective one must understand the landscape of college basketball recruiting.
Full Ride Basketball Scholarship Competition
The competition for full rides is intense and virtually all top 100 level recruits entering grades 9-12 now play year round utilizing not only their high school seasons but high exposure ultra-individual player marketing club level leagues such as the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). These club teams are now arguably the best way for players to make a name for themselves and get exposure to division 1 coaches that they simply can’t find with their short, sometimes isolated high school seasons. An average high school season is around 20 games while high level AAU teams are playing 40-50 games per year. Nearly every college recruit is also working diligently on their skills with a qualified basketball trainer. There are more players than division 1 programs and college Coaches will usually recruit at least five players for each full scholarship spot they have available. Recruits not only come from US high schools but also from prep schools world-wide, junior colleges such as the highly competitive National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and overseas organizations of every kind. Division 1 programs will have kids on their radar as early as eighth grade. The process is complex but if players are playing and exposed to recruiters the opportunity is there. A regular practice of College Basketball and College Football programs is to ask for a top level recruit to make a “verbal” commitment to them which is simply a public announcement by the recruit that they are planning to play at a particular school. This agreement is usually made during a recruit’s junior year and is not binding but most often ends with a formal written offer or letter of intent from the school within a year. Once a letter of intent is signed which will occur in the fall or the spring during the two separate signing periods, the deal becomes final for a full year between the recruit and school. A full-year scholarship will be taken off the table for a variety of reasons but most often boils down to either the player feeling they are better than the program and the grass is greener elsewhere or the coach no longer feeling the player is worth the money and somebody out there will be. At this point, a player can get a release from the school but if they are going to another division 1 program, they’ll have to sit a full year. Typically, they will sign with the next school, be under scholarship and play the following season. This only adds to the competition for the available full rides in any given year.
Chase the Dream… But Know the Odds
In summary, the full ride is available each year for a very small percentage of select top level basketball recruits. Serious basketball recruits who want every chance to chase their dream, would be smart to look beyond the full-ride, and see the full picture in the recruiting game. Continue to chase the dream, but understand that there are more than one ways to reach it. Once again, numbers state that kids may not earn a full-ride and in-fact, most scholarships come through academic success as well as federal funding. In addition, the cost of education continues to be substantial. College Board reports that a “moderate” college budget for an in-state public college for the 2013–2014 academic year averaged $22,826. A moderate budget at a private college averaged $44,750.”
Special thanks to the guys at BasketballHQ.com for the great infographic below breaking down the anatomy of a college basketball scholarship.
Part 2; “The Numbers Game,” in this 7 part series, will discuss academic and athletic scholarship options and we will begin to look at the best ways to package yourself as a basketball recruit. Subscribe to our email feed to get the other 7 parts delivered to your email inbox. This series is written primarily by Coach Eric Werntgen of U Maine – Fort Kent. Eric is also a former college basketball player himself . Coach Werntgen is part of the BasketballTrainer.com staff.